There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed the way we do business, including how we sell enterprise technology. With employees working from home, licenses for on-premise enterprise software are being replaced by software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscriptions. Cloud solutions have been with us for some time, and adoption has accelerated thanks to the pandemic.
Remote work is here to stay. A Gartner survey shows that 82 percent of company executives surveyed said they plan to continue to make remote work part of their operations. In the same survey, 47 percent said they intend to make remote work a permanent option, 43 percent plan to offer flex days, and 42 percent will provide flex hours. These remote workers will need access to enterprise assets, which makes cloud computing a logical choice.
Selling cloud-based solutions has to be part of enterprise solution sales.
What’s driving the cloudburst?
Cloud computing isn’t new—it has been around since the 1960s. The public cloud has been around since 2002 when Amazon Web Services (AWS) first started selling cloud resources. AWS still holds the market lead with 32 percent of the cloud hosting market, followed by Microsoft Azure with 19 percent market share, and Google Cloud with 7 percent market share. With the growing number of SaaS businesses, as well as platform as a service (PasS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS), it has become more cost-effective to rent cloud computing solutions than it is to maintain your own data center.
Companies gain several benefits by adopting cloud solutions:
- Cloud computing solutions are quick to deploy and more reliable since they are hosted, and there is little or no cost for equipment or software.
- Cloud computing is scalable. You can add users and data storage as needed.
- Cloud services tend to be more affordable. Rather than paying annual software license fees, most SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS providers only charge for what you use.
- Cloud-based solutions are more agile and efficient. For example, supporting remote workers using SaaS applications or cloud resources is simpler than maintaining a virtual private network. Cloud solutions also are more efficient, providing analytics to right-size SaaS licenses and enabling automation of business processes.
- Cloud solutions also can be accessed from anywhere, which makes them ideal for employees working remotely.
Cloud computing also gives customers different deployment options based on their needs:
- Public cloud services are the least expensive and are shared over the internet. They save customers from having to maintain and manage their own IT infrastructure.
- Private cloud services are for only one organization. Companies can build their own cloud or outsource to service providers. While they are more expensive, private clouds make it easier to maintain data privacy and comply with government regulations.
- Hybrid cloud services are a blend of public and private clouds, so you can allocate computing assets as needed. You can host secure data on the private cloud while operational systems such as a CRM can be shared using the public cloud.
The criteria for selling cloud-based solutions are different from selling conventional enterprise software. You need to be able to assess customer needs and recommend the right cloud infrastructure and applications.
Selling cloud services is more about presenting features and functions and less about compatibility and integration. Cloud-based solutions are designed to run on any platform, so they are a lower risk for the customer. They also can be deployed faster and require fewer IT resources. With cloud solutions, it’s easier to set up a trial or proof of concept before closing the deal. Cloud services also use subscription or consumption-based billing, so they are less expensive than annual license fees and easier to accommodate in the operating budget.
Utilize these five cloud selling strategies.
Successfully selling cloud solutions requires a different tactical approach than traditional enterprise sales. Here are a few tips to help you become more successful in selling cloud-based solutions:
Focus on customer pain points. You should be laser-focused on customer goals and the problems they are trying to address. To help you offer right-sized solutions, consider organizing your prospects and your cloud resources by customer size (e.g., SMB versus enterprise). Also, organize your cloud services catalog by vertical industry.
Remember that selling cloud-based solutions is an evolutionary process, not a rip-and-replace sale. Customer needs will change over time, and their cloud service needs will change as well. Be prepared to provide ongoing support for cloud sales as well as offer new solutions.
Successful cloud selling is all about matching customers to cloud resources. Here are some suggestions to make it easier:
1. Build customer profiles.
Make a list of customer needs and map them to available cloud services. Keep the profiles up to date since customer needs change over time.
2. Build cloud partner profiles.
To map customer needs, you need a catalog of cloud service offerings. Develop cloud partner profiles, so you know what they offer. Be sure to include pricing and support options along with a list of services.
3. Create value-added service bundles.
Cloud service offerings can be complex, and customers don’t want to deal with multiple licenses. Create value-added bundles that fulfill customer needs while simplifying billing.
4. Be flexible.
Be prepared to mix and match services to deliver the right cloud solutions package. There is an art to matching cloud services, so be prepared to modify services based on changing needs.
5. Establish relationships.
There is no substitute for strong business relationships when you are trying to solve a problem. Get to know your cloud and resource partners, so you have someone you can call when you need help.
6. Use Team Selling
Assemble the right team to support your sales efforts. Bringing together sales specialists that have different roles and expertise makes for more efficient consultative sales. Having team members dedicated to lead qualification, sales consulting, engineering support, and customer success makes it easier to guide the customer in their cloud journey and deliver the best possible results.
Enlist MarketStar for outside support.
Also, consider building a custom sales team. Multiple steps requiring different resources go into selling cloud services. Enlisting outside sales support can help you build cloud sales. For example, outsourcing lead qualification and nurturing leaves sales reps free to focus on current customers and bigger deals. If you need technical expertise, bring in a sales engineer to help close the deal. Support is especially important when selling cloud-based solutions. Consider outsourcing onboarding and customer success to reduce churn and increase LTV. Finding the right sales-as-a-service partner can help improve lead quality, close more deals, and elevate customer satisfaction.
If you want to learn about some of the latest trends that are shaping the channel and see how you can prepare for success, be sure to access our e-book, The Channel Is NOT Dead: 6 Actions That Infuse New Life and Revenue Into Your Channel.